Nearly 100 support staff walked off the job at Royal Perth Hospital today in response to stalled bargaining with the Department of Health.
The State Government is refusing to formally recommit to not privatise any existing hospital worker job.
Members are also fighting for better job security for casual employees and a wage increase of $50 a week to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Work bans have also been introduced with workers refusing to dispose of rubbish, wash dishes or collect bed linen.
This is only the beginning, with rolling strikes at public hospitals continuing throughout the week.
United Voice delegate Ron has worked at the hospital for over 30 years, and says privatisation doesn’t work.
“For the last 20 years we’ve had that clause in our agreement,” he said.
“We know that privatisation has never worked; previously housekeeping, cleaning and catering were privatised.
“It was a total mess, especially housekeeping, we had a lot of infection in the hospital at that stage.
“What happened was they bought it back in-house and introduced more cleaners; and of course now everything is running really well.”
Ron said the privatisation of some support staff jobs in the 90s was a complete disaster and members have to fight against this change to the agreement.
“We have to fight; we can’t just lie down and be defeated.
“We have to fight the privatisation because above all patient care is compromised.
“That’s the most important thing; its not just about us, its also about the patients.”
United Voice Secretary Carolyn Smith addressed the crowd and urged them to stand up and continue to fight for their jobs.
“Do we keep fighting to keep that clause that stops them privatising your jobs in the agreement? Are we going to keep fighting?” she asked.
“You and other support workers from Kununurra to Esperance are fighting hard because we don’t want to see Serco in Royal Perth or Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
“We don’t want to see Serco in Esperance, in Albany, in Geraldton in Kalgoorlie. Anywhere in Western Australia. So good on you and keep up the fight.”
Rolling strikes will continue throughout the week, with the next one to take place tomorrow at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
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